I am always there. But they don't care if I am because I am furniture. I don't get hit I don't get fondled I don't get love because I am furniture. Suits me fine. When the garage door goes up he's home. We close up conversation and scuttle off like crabs each to our room-- Shut the door. Shut the door. Shut the door. Mom alone in the kitchen where she should be before the garage door goes down and we are locked in hell. Dinner. He knocked Darren onto the linoleum. I don't remember his arm swing, just Darren and his chair-- eight tangled limbs on the floor. No reason that I could see. But my father picked up his reasons and his plate and went to eat in the living room. Darren picked up his chair and himself and we are now eating in customary ice-age silence. When I was much younger Yaicha and Darren would point at my nose and say, "You don't look like us your nose is different you don't belong." Yaicha and Darren told me that I was the mailman's child, and I got so angry, stalking away, hot steam in my ribs. Yaicha and Darren told me that I was the mailman's child and now I am thinking how wonderful it would be to have the mailman as my father. My mom. At times I still want to sigh, curl into her, nourish in her motherness, especially when she wears that old suede jacket that smells of fall leaves, like the pliable leather armchair left outside on the back porch. But she doesn't welcome that. Maybe I am not that young anymore. And when he is there all her motherness has to be spent on him. Oh, yay charity day visiting Angeline the Wimp. I see her often enough at school. Don't want to visit her house. Since her dad left her and her mousy mother for some bouncy secretary in Texas mom and I are here to touch base, be friendly. Our moms met way back when we were in preschool. Angeline irritates me-- she's delusional, terrified, weak. the ocean has "man-eating seaweed" the garden has "corn-barfing worms" the fancy sound system has "thought-tracking speakers." I didn't choose to be friends with her. Angeline doesn't have a father around and my mom says she really needs one. Maybe. But not like mine. Scrubbing my volleyball knee pads while I'm in the shower, hot water, way too much soap, but, man, three days of preseason training on the sly collected a hell of a stink. The foam won't dry out overnight. My knees will probably froth in soap bubbles if I dare set foot in tryouts tomorrow. First day. Ninth grade. High school. Honking in the parking lot, upperclassmen back smacking, squeals of recognition, a grimly nodding principal. I'm supposed to feel something more than just rattled by the sheer number of people in the halls, right? Scared? Except that I've been in and out of this building a bunch of times for years-- Yaicha's musicals, Darren's debate team. I learned my classrooms from the map, and I just spent whole days going to volleyball training here, so I kind of get it already. I like school. Not scared. But excited in that jiggering-on-too-much-hot-sauce kind of way that it's time to step out of my old framework, raw and amorphous, to become something I've never thought of before. After school is a different story. Volleyball tryouts. I wasn't going to do it. Even though I crave it I wasn't supposed to try out because my father said, "Competition is dangerous for a young girl's mind." But I already like the girls from preseason training. And that tenth-grader Rona saw me growing roots outside the locker room dangling my new volleyball sneakers bought with my own money in secret. Rona looked me in the eye. "You are going to put on some shorts, right?" and as she steered me through the splintered wood door she told me about some player last year who tried out with mittens on to protect her nylon nails. Excerpted from Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.